Looking Back on 20 Years of Sucker Punch

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Looking Back on 20 Years of Sucker Punch

Co-founder Chris Zimmerman looks back on the infamous studio's two-decade history.

inFAMOUS Second Son

All of us at Sucker Punch are looking forward to a big anniversary—we’re about to turn 20 years old! Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough room to invite all of you to our anniversary party, so we did the next best thing—we added Infamous: Second Son to your Instant Game Collection this month! Have fun!

Long ago, in October of 1997, five friends and I left cushy jobs at Microsoft, sublet some crappy office space down the street, and got to work on our first game.

We’ve been on Team Sony for a long time, but our first game was actually for the Nintendo 64—Rocket: Robot on Wheels, a light-hearted physics-based platformer starring a plucky maintenance robot who has to rescue a theme park from the dastardly clutches of a criminally-minded raccoon. After two years of hard work, a smattering of critical success, and a somewhat tepid response from the game-buying public, we took one important thing away from the project: “criminally-minded raccoon”.

And that led us to the first game in our long partnership with Team Sony: Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus. By the way, I still can’t believe we put fake Latin words in the title of our first big game. Every time I start to type “Thievieus,” I have to look up how we spelled it. Just so you know, whenever we want to remember some detail about one of our old games (like how to spell “Thievious”) we search the internet. Those of you behind the awesome Sly Cooper and Infamous web sites have our eternal gratitude—we’ve relied on you countless times over the years!

Working on the Sly games was tons of fun, but if you make a game for kids about a master thief and his friends pulling off crazy heists, you can’t help worrying that the message you’re sending to the youth of the world is “Hey Kids! Stealing Is Cool!” Which would be the worst public service announcement ever. Eventually we decided that Sly was such a skillful thief that he only steals from other thieves, and explained this rule in the first five minutes of the game. We crossed our fingers—and managed to not trigger a tweener crime wave. Whew!

Sly Cooper

We’re proud of the first Sly game—it’s still fun to play, 15 years later—but sometimes we succeeded despite ourselves. During development of Sly, we’d held off on building the Panda King world (the first level players encountered) until the end of development. We figured after designing and building three other worlds, we’d be really good at it, and we wanted the first world people played to be exceptionally good. So that’s what we did—we built the first world last, then after it was done we held a focus test with real players. And it was a complete disaster—no one could make it past the first level! We’d been playing the game for years, so we thought the tricky jumping and sneaking techniques we’d added were great, but new players were completely lost.

This caused mild panic. We were only months away from shipping the game, and didn’t have enough time to fix all the problems with the first world. Luckily, inspiration struck—with a little bit of improvisation, we could change the order of the worlds! And that’s what we did—we invented a new move to learn on the Panda King world (the internet just reminded me that this move was Invisibility), moved it from first to fourth in the order of worlds, and managed to escape the mess we’d made of things.

After seven or so years of Sly Cooper, it was time for a new challenge, and we left toon shading behind. We set out to make a game that told the sort of super-hero story we all loved. Eventually, that game turned into Infamous, but that’s not how it started.

At first, we were building a superhero version of Animal Crossing. You roamed your city, tracked down criminals, helped out the citizens, and did some light zoning work along the way. The best superheroes have alter egos, right? So your alter ego was a property developer, deciding where to put the pet shops and tiki bars the citizens were demanding. Sounds awesome, right? Well, it wasn’t. After six months of experimentation we gave up on property development and focused on superhero action.


If you’ve played Infamous, you’re probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned karma yet. That’s the point of an Infamous game, after all—waking up with superpowers and deciding how you’re going to use them. Surely we switched from pet shops and tiki bars to karma? Um… unfortunately, no. We didn’t have parkour in the game either, at that point. Midway through development, the awesome French parkour action movie District B13 hit our local theaters, and we were inspired to spend a couple of years trying to bring it to life.

inFAMOUS First Light

Karma was also sort of an accident. On the umpteenth time trying to explain our game, this time to our friends in Sony Marketing, we ran through the premise. “You wake up with super powers, and you’re a bike messenger, but you can climb around the city, and you have to decide whether you’re a good guy or not, and you throw sharpened bike gears at people, and you have a friend named Zeke, and …”

“Wait a second,” the marketing guys said. “You get to decide whether you’re good or evil? That sounds cool.” And they were right. Five Infamous games later, they’re still right.

Obviously, we made some good decisions along the way, too. Sucker Punch history isn’t an uninterrupted string of near escapes from dumb mistakes… but those stories are a lot funnier. And we can’t wait to tell you the stories yet to come.

Thank you for all your support of Sucker Punch over the last 20 years, we couldn’t have done it without you! Enjoy Second Son!

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13 Author Replies

  • I would love more Sly Cooper games on the PS4, I’d even take remasters at this point.

    • Just an FYI for anyone reading the comments here–I’ve been strictly instructed not to talk about what we’re working on now… so if you’re planning on reading to the end of the comments section just in case I let something slip, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Sorry!

    • Why must you have responded to a post about Sly Cooper saying that you can’t talk about what you’re working on? As coincidental as this probably is, I’ve already been hoping for a Sly 5 to properly end the series ever since Thieves in Time… Sanzaru left our raccoon stranded after ruining the ending of the trilogy, so surely there’s a chance that the studio would be willing to give him a proper send off…?

      If anything, I think that the latest Ratchet and Clank has proven that there is still a demand for good “mascot” platformers. Sly 5, if done well and paired with some collection on the PS4, could potentially do well, and even tie into the upcoming TV series…

    • Sanzaru didn’t ruin the ending of the trilogy, Sucker Punch did by leaving it open ended and then not finishing it. We definitely need at least one more to properly wrap things up though.

    • First time I’ve read down all the comments just in case..damn you haha

    • This isn’t my correct account because it won’t let me change to the regular/this is for betas but to get back on topic it has been a long time since i played sly cooper and it would be nice to see remakes but one thing that bugs me is will sly ever get out of the desert

    • would love another sly as well. Maybe fix that ridiculous twist that made no sense.

  • I smell a Sucker Punch announcement at PSX this year!

  • Port inFAMOUSE 1 and 2 to the PS4. Also you guy’s really need to make a new game. You have waaaaay to quiet.

  • Sucker Punch is on the shortlist of developers from whom anything is an automatic buy for me. The worlds of Sly and especially Infamous have given me a ridiculous number of hours of entertainment. Can’t wait to see what’s next for you all, but I know it will be great.

    (but I wouldn’t mind seeing Cole again someday…)

  • When I read “Five infamous games later” I was pumped and confused. Thought they had mistakenly announced a game in development.. Needless to say I forgot about Fest. of Blood. Pretty disappointed, a new infamous game would be legen (wait for it) dary!

  • I’m really excited for what this team has to offer up next! Also love how they have history working with all 3 major console players…Granted with Microsoft it had nothing to do with video games, but still…Quite interesting.

    It’s nice to hear them say it too on the PlayStation Blog rather than pretend like history doesn’t exist. It’s cool to see where people come from and their history before and throughout video games.

    Can’t wait for your PlayStation Experience 2017 announcement Sucker Punch! :P

    • We’re sort of a lonely outpost of Team Sony here in suburban Seattle. The Microsoft and Nintendo campuses are within a 10 minute drive, but we need to hop on a plane to see our friends at Sony!

  • Sucker Punch instantly gets my purchase on anything. I waited a long time to play First Light until it was free on PSN because I figured it was a couple hour long expansion. Wow, I was wrong. What a polished and fantastic experience.

  • I’m looking forward to seeing more about Sucker Punch new project and hopefully an Infamous remastered collection and a Sly remastered collection.

  • Congrats!

  • Sly 1 was one of the first games I played as a kid that truly stuck with me. I replayed it endlessly and the sequels as well, and I revisit them through the PS3 collection these days.

    Today I’m a computer animation major and working on a game with my best friend, and your games have been a huge influence. The way Sly sprinkled in some pretty major gameplay/genre changes for missions in 2 and 3 was incredible and I feel as though that inspired the way we’re making our game. And even for a supposed kid’s game, the stories were always so cool with unexpected twists and turns (some of them sort of surprising given it was for a younger audience) the narrative of the original trilogy is one of my absolute favorite things about it.

    I love the Infamous series as well and Second Son was the only one I didn’t play, so definitely hopping on it soon. I wish you guys luck with your next project! One day when I have a big fat portfolio and feel confident I’ll send an application your way.

    • Glad to hear the Sly games helped inspire you! We’re always on the lookout for new Sucker Punchers–we’ll look forward to seeing your application someday!

  • “we invented a new move to learn on the Panda King world (the internet just reminded me that this move was Invisibility)” Actually it was the ability to use a turret and battering ram on the team van after adding them on.

    • You learn and master invisibility while in the Panda King’s world, not in Mz. Ruby’s world. You later improve it and are required to use it in the Panda King’s levels.

      The turret and battering ram were more minigame-style elements specifically for two Clockwerk levels rather than abilities that Sly could use later on — especially since they were specific to one level each.

  • Infamous 1 and 2 remakes with the engine from Second Son would be awesome! I’ve seen the lightning in my dreams <3

  • I’ve been rocking the SlyCooperFan1 name (slight variation on PSN since it was already taken) for 2/3 of my life. I own a Sony-made replica of the Cooper Cane (thanks HeyPlayStation!). I’ve completed the three original games countless times on PS2 and PS3, and am in the process of doing so again on the Vita. I’m still listening to Peter McConnell’s amazing compositions.

    Thank you, Sucker Punch, for providing such an important and impactful experience in my life. Very few things have affected me as much or as long as Sly Cooper has, and those games will always remain my favorite games of all time. The InFAMOUS games have been incredible as well, and I cannot wait to see what you guys will do next.

    • Wow! Having a cane at home is pretty hard core! We have one at the Sucker Punch offices, but at home I only have a replica Amp from inFAMOUS 2.

      That cane is built to match the in-game model, by the way. Same dimensions.

    • Seriously? So we can actually extrapolate Sly’s dimensions from the cane, and therefore rough estimates of everyone else. That actually makes the world a lot smaller than I imagined, if all the buildings and vehicles were made to one-half human size xD That’s really insightful, thanks!

      I hope one day I can visit you guys in Seattle, that would be an experience of a lifetime. I know you’ve got more than just a replica cane hanging around those offices :P

    • Whoops, scratch that, I forgot there was an official image showing Sly as being six feet tall. Interesting that the cane is supposed to be half the size he is.

  • Sucker Punch has been one of my favorite studios ever since the first Sly Cooper dropped on PS2. I have never played a bad game from them. I look forward to whatever else you got lined up in the future. And with that said:

    REMASTER INFAMOUS 1 & 2 FOR PS4! They are two of the BEST games of last generation!

  • I feel for those guys who lost their jobs. Second Son was and is a great game. I’m sure you (Sucker Punch) and Sony helped move them to other projects outside of the studio. I wish Sucker Punch all the luck and all the best in they’re next great endeavor.

  • I really can’t wait to see what you guys are working on next! You guys have been sorely missed since First Light.

  • One of the best things about Infamous 2 and Infamous: Second Son had to be some of the easter eggs. Growing up playing Sly Cooper and then seeing a playground with Sly, Bentley and Murray in second son really made me feel like you guys never forgot where you got started, and that’s something that as a fan of your studio I admire greatly.

    Thank you so much for putting Infamous: Second Son up this month for free. It was a good game and I played the heck out of it and regretted not buying it immediately like I did the previous two games. I didn’t understand the title until I went back and read through the first two Infamous games on the wiki. Should have just replayed them. Thanks again guys! Keep being awesome!

    • We have fun putting the Easter Eggs in, so it’s a good thing people have fun finding and recognizing them!

      On that note, the businesses in Second Son are a mix of real Seattle businesses and made-up ones… including a few named after the children of Sucker Punch employees.

  • Happy 20th anniversary, Sucker Punch! Love the Sly Cooper series, as well as inFamous. And I even played Rocket: Robot on Wheels on the N64 back in the day, although I don’t remember much about it.

    When the original Sly Cooper came out, I was working for a games magazine/strategy guide publisher, and I was able to play an early version. I seem to recall that there was a room in one of the game’s levels where you could find Rocket inside a glass display case! Unfortunately, this was removed from the final version. Any reason why?

    Keep up the great games! Looking forward to seeing what’s next…

    • Ah yes, the disappearing Rocket statue! That’s a pretty insider reference… we had to pull the statue near the end of Sly 2 development. At that point, Sucker Punch owned the rights to Rocket, but Sly 2 was a Sony game, and we didn’t have time to untangle things…

    • Whoa, Sucker Punch owned the rights to Rocket “at that point”?

      Really? D: Who owns it now then? I’ve always wanted something to come out of that IP again. :( Even if it were just a virtual console release, but had assumed Ubisoft always owned the IP.

  • So you guys are still around.

  • That feeling of jumping from extreme heights in Infamous, one of my favorite video game sensations! Remaster? More Infamous? Yes to both please!

  • When E3 2017 finished i was so disappointed that Sucker Punch wasnt there. I hope you are eager to show what you have worked on the past 3 years. Hope its Infamous.

  • So is it true that the Sly Cooper Movie and TV series are still going to happen?

    • Yes, there’s a Sly Cooper TV series in the works! I’m strictly a fan on this one–I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  • I’ve beat and gotten platinum on every infamous game besides 1, couldn’t find the last blast shard lol, and just finished second son for the 3rd time thanks to it being added to ps plus, i hope your new game is infamous and not sly cooper lol but I’m sure sly cooper fans feel the same about infamous

    • Yeah, sorry about that last blast shard in inFAMOUS 1! Our bad… I bestow my blessing on you and whoever else is looking for one last blast shard to consult the internet for hints. There are five or so in really random locations–the last one many people find is stuck out on the end of a series of pilings in the bay.

  • I bought every single game you guys have released. I had Sly on PS2, PS3 (HD versions), PS Vita (both the Collection and Thieves of time from Sanzaru). I would love a Sly Cooper Anthology Collection on PS4.

    I also bought every single Infamous (on PS3 and PS4) (sadly no Infamous on Vita). Would love the original 2 games to be remastered on PS4 (with all the DLC like Festival of Blood).

    And then after announcing those two Collections, announce a brand new game, which is going to be mind blowing. Day one for me.

  • 5 years later and Im still waiting for Infamous on Ps Vita….

  • Do you guys have ownership of Rocket Robot on Wheels?

  • Love your guys games I have the platinum in all of the infamous games to prove it. Keep making awesome games and enjoy the money I will keep tossing at your :D

  • So infamous second son part 2 coming April 2018 I hope so would be a great way to bring in the spring.

  • I’d love to get inFamous Collection Remastered for PS4 & PS4 Pro. Never got chance to play them before.

  • As happy I am for free infamous second son.. PS plus on september on South East Asia Region already giving it for free~
    anyways good job sucker punch! Keep It Up!

  • You’ve been awfully quite since the release of infamous second son and its expansion. Really looking forward to your next game!

  • Congratulations on 20 years!

  • Congrats on the big 2-0! I’m really looking forward to whatever you’re up to next :-)

  • Come on, do a new infamous, but maybe this time with a character who is less a d*ck than the one in second son

    • Not a fan of Delsin, huh? He did have pretty cool super-powers…

    • He was nice, but his bad boy storyline, with bad choices all the way, were too “jerk” and without a proper reason, like when he suddenly threaten to kick his big brother ass. I know that this is what the bad boy storyline is about, but still felt it was a little bit far-fetched.

  • I LOVE the Sly Cooper series! Hope to see it on PS4 someday soon…

  • He said the N-word!….

  • Sly Cooper and Kingdom Hearts baby, best childhood games ever. (pls bring all the sly games to PS4 so we can all revert to small children, ty, not to say every1 who played it was a small child) Also I appreciate everyone at suckerpunch as human beings, ily

  • Cole will always define the Infamous arc for me. Delsin and Fetch are great, but Macgrath is the original. It’s a shame Infamous 3 will never be made.

  • Started with inFamous 1 when PNS was hacked and was down for a week and got two games for free. Played every game since.
    Started playing Sly Cooper once Thieves in Time was free on PS Plus. PS2 I mainly played Ratchet and Clank and Nicktoon Games.

    • Big Congrats on the (near) 20 years! You guys have given me giving me so many amazing worlds to explore, and I have loved each and everyone of them from InFamous to Sly Cooper

      Now if only you guys and gals could maybe announce whatever your working on? Pretty please? Seriously I’ve have been waiting fervently for any new info ever since first light wrapped up, maybe a announcement at PSX?

      I would very much like another sucker punch game to platinum

      Heres hoping to another 20 years (and beyond!)
      Lots of love from Los Angeles

    • I did not mean for that to be a reply, sorry!

  • Big Congrats on the (near) 20 years! You guys have given me giving me so many amazing worlds to explore, and I have loved each and everyone of them from InFamous to Sly Cooper
    Now if only you guys and gals could maybe announce whatever your working on? Pretty please? Seriously I’ve have been waiting fervently for any new info ever since first light wrapped up, maybe a announcement at PSX?
    I would very much like another sucker punch game to platinum
    Heres hoping to another 20 years (and beyond!)
    Lots of love from Los Angeles

  • Is it true that for Playstation All Stars, you guys were the one who had the idea for cole and evil cole being seperate characters when asked to use him in the game?
    I even heard you guys wouldn’t allow him to be used unless he was split like that.
    Personally is a PSAS2 got made, I’d like to see the Coles merged and the second slot given to Delsin.
    I really don’t get why people hate Delsin so much. I think its the stigma of the “edgy” aesthetic because he had way more likable personality imo than Cole.

  • I now own, but have not yet played the first 2 Infamous games. The first game of yours that I played was Infamous: Second Son. I played that game exclusively for 4 straight play throughs, and ended up getting my very first Platinum Trophy. I played First Light, but got distracted with work and a bunch of other things, so I definitely need to get back to it. I can’t stand, and won’t play games without a good story, so keep up the awesome work. Infamous: Second Son is just an amazing game, and now that I have a digital copy, I’ll probably play it a few more times.

    P.S. I’m looking forward to seeing Delsin again. I think that he and his friends have much more work to do. ;)

  • @SuckerPunch I have to thank you for the opportunity to play a game like inFamous. It is by far my favourite *superhero* game. I’ve always gone evil primarily, as I find it to be the most fun playthrough. Followed by good on my second run. I also play on the harder difficulty during my evil playthrough. And I must admit, I personally found going inFamous on Second Son slightly harder than actually being a hero. Quite surprising.

    Congrats on reaching 20 and let’s hope you make it another 20 filled with more inFamous as well as some new ip’s.

    Happy Birthday Sucker Punch!

  • Chris, Rocket Robot on Wheels was one of my first N64 games and I absolutely adored it. I had no idea it was your first game too. And it took me many years to realize that you, the makers of Sly Cooper and inFamous, also made a game I played much earlier (it was sometime around when the first inFamous came out that I finally realized it!)

    I’ve been jonesing for another Sucker Punch game since First Light. Which was incredible. I hope to see what you guys are working on for all this time soon. And it’d be great to get the first three inFamous games ported to PS4. FoB’s flying bat power is still the best one~… and hopefully in that process whoever ports it can toss in a way to find the shards in 1 easier. :P The only glaring flaw in that game. Would plat them again.

    Same with Sly, whether it’s like Jak or actual remasters. Three times the plat, why not?

    Crossing my fingers for PSX that we get some Sucker Punch news.

  • You guys (along with Naughty Dog) really make me proud when I say that I am a PlayStation fan. Not only are your games inspired and well evolved, they are extremely fun to replay. I platinumized all 4 games and I am currently playing Infamous 2 for the 5th time, and I absolutely hate it when I am about to finish any of the Infamous games simply because of just how amazing they are. Ehm, I also cried when Cole died in the good ending so ahhh, maybe bring him back? Maybe? As awesome as Delsin and Fetch are, they simply cannot compare to Cole’s pure badassery (especially since his electric powers are honestly way cooler). Anyway, enough rambeling. I absolutely love you guys, thanks for the huge amount of fun you brought into my life, and happy 20th birthday! Only 1 year and you can start drinking (horrible joke I know).

    Note: if not Cole, then maybe Kessler? Sort of a prequel showing what really happened with him aside from the big picture we learned in the first Infamous and all the dead drops in the second? Maybe even make the game longer by doing both timelines, original and after when he was evolving the First Sons.

  • One of my all-time favorite game developers. Keep up the great work!

  • Any chance of Sicker Punch releasing an Artbook of where you started to its latest release? That would be a great way to celebrate your 20th anniversary.

  • Guys, I am still waiting to hear something new from Sucker Punch since First Light. It has been too long already… new Sucker Punch game needed badly :)

  • Hey dear Sucker Punch, I just want to say congrats on the anniversary, I hope that PSX has us both more excited :D haha. Keep making great games, thanks for the experience :)

  • Congrats guys and thank you for the Sly games, iv loved them sense the first and now share them with my little girls who love them. still want an answer on sly 4s ending tho :P

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